Old Yardleians RFC: Club News

A tribute to Bert Black from our man overseas

Sun, 20 Oct 2019 12:00

Further to Mick Ison’s excellent tribute, I would like to add a few thoughts of my own.

I was club captain when Hadyn Samuel introduced the Sheldon Heath cohort to the club. They quickly established themselves and raised both the quantity, and the quality, of our playing resources. 

In our 1st XV preparations for the 1968/69 season we had arranged a warm up match against Camp Hill OE.  One week before the fixture we discovered that our regular props, Ivor Enoch and Mick Friend were not available so, reluctantly, we asked Bert and Jim Wattison (also a Sheldon Heath recruit), callow youths both, to play in the front row. I feared the worst but need not have worried. Bert and Jim destroyed the Camp Hill scrum, with their strength and technique.

Despite the temptation to play them in the 1st XV on the back of that display, we decided to bring them on slowly, in the newly formed Colts XV, for the remainder of that season.

Bert became a regular 1st XV player in the season 1969/70. He put in 29 appearances, out of 36 matches played, scoring 3 tries. 

His first try was scored on Saturday 4th October 1969, against Erdington RFC, exactly 50 years (to the day) before his untimely death. 

That season was my last as Club Captain, but I watched with interest how Bert developed into the player and Clubman, that he became.

In later years Bert was a regular at OY’s VP lunches, with his good friend Mick Bloxham, where his pride in the Club was evident.

I last met Bert at the OY’s 90th anniversary celebration last year. We met, by chance, after breakfast, and together with Mick Bloxham, Martin Cullen, and Mick Berry, enjoyed a happy hour or so, reminiscing over times past. I cherish the memory of that meeting.

I cannot make it over for the funeral, but will raise a glass to his memory, on the day.

My thoughts are with his family at this sad time.

Dave Collen

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